This is iSpeak Clearly’s first article in a series on mindfulness and mindful awareness of speaking.
We speak all day, everyday. But how many of us are mindful of our communication—what we say, how we say it, and its impact on others?
Principles of mindfulness can be applied to communication to help us develop awareness and become more effective speakers.
What is mindfulness?
Jon Kabat-Zinn, the father of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, defines it this way:
“Mindfulness is awareness, cultivated by paying attention in a sustained and particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” (1, 2)
Why should I care?
Mindful research abounds. Some of the shown benefits include stress reduction, improved concentration and memory, and increased happiness. (3)
How do I practice mindfulness?
In its most simplistic form, mindfulness training begins with developing awareness of the breath. Inhale, exhale, breathe in, and breathe out. Feel the movement of the air.
How are mindfulness and public speaking related?
Fundamental for life and often taken for granted, breath is essential for a confident, effective speaking voice. It is the fuel for the sound we create.
Abdominal breathing is one of the most effective forms of relaxation.
- Are you nervous before a meeting?
- Feeling anxious about your presentation?
- Do you need to calm yourself before an interview?
Try taking a few abdominal breaths. You will feel some of the tension subside.
Do you want to create a strong, confident voice? Mindful awareness of your breathing will provide the support for a voice that is easy to hear and pleasing to listen to.
5 Steps to Develop Mindful Breath Support and Control For Speaking
Be mindful of your breath. Focus on the flow of air and the rise and fall of your abdomen with each inhalation and exhalation.
- Lie on the floor, with a book on your abdomen. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Be sure to see the book rise as you inhale and fall as you exhale. Count one as you inhale, two for exhale, and continue to a total count of ten.
- Repeat the above in standing and then sitting positions. Breathe in a relaxed, natural manner. Put your hands on your waist to feel the rise and fall of the abdomen. Count one as you inhale, two as you exhale and continue to a total count of ten in each position.
- While sitting or standing, breathe in slowly for a count of three, hold for three seconds, and exhale slowly from the mouth for a count of three. Repeat five times.
- While sitting or standing, take a deep breath in through the nose, and exhale slowly from the mouth for a count of five. Then take a quick, deep breath in, and slowly exhale from the mouth for a count of eight. For a third time, take a deep breath in, and slowly exhale from the mouth for a count of ten.
- While sitting or standing, breathe in slowly for a count of three, pause, and make the “shh” sound (as if you were requesting someone to be quiet) for a maximum of ten seconds as you exhale.
Repeat these exercises daily to develop mindful awareness of your breathing and control of your breath for strong, confident speech.
1. Kabat-Zinn, J. (2016). Mindfulness for beginners: reclaiming the present moment – and your life. Boulder, CO: Sound True.